Frank Kermode, The
Harvard UP, 1979
King James Version of
Standard Version of the Bible
Plato,Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Phaedrus
Harvard UP Loeb edition, 1914
Augustine, On Christian Doctrine
Prentice Hall, 1958
Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
W.W. Norton (Norton Critical Edition), 1996
Patricia Highsmith, Eleven
Atlantic Monthly Press, 1994
Louis Althusser, On Ideology
Paul Boghossian, Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and
Oxford UP, 2007
than a tour through the mall of literary theory, this course
will take a particular path in the history of hermeneutics.
We will look at part of the the history of esotericism from
Plato to Patricia Highsmith. This will require
digging, and a level of attention that might seem taxing
at times. We will ask some basic questions, such as
Kermode does in his book -- "Why are some narratives obscure?"
How are things hidden in writing? Is this always a secondary effect, or
are the psychoanalysts correct that we also (1) hide things,
like the truth, from ourselves, and/or (2) refuse to see? We will also think about the ways
in which ideology impacts our capacities for clear vision.
That is, we apparently have the capacity to live a grand
illusion, and not necessarily as a
is not a playful illustrative technique, but a form of
expression, just as speech is expression, and, indeed, just
as writing is." Walter Benjamin makes that declaration in
The Origin of
German Tragic Drama (162 in the standard translation).
As Renaissance authors used to say, confirming Benjamin's
point above, allegory is the captain of all rhetorical
figures of speech. For that reason alone, the topic of
allegory deserves our attention. Part of the task involves
developing salient distinctions among allegory, figuration,
metaphor, and symbol, and delving into epistemological and
political considerations (e.g., Plato's "Seventh Letter").